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U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing
U.S. SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HOLDS A HEARING ON DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE NOMINATIONS
June 22, 2001
U.S. SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN
U.S. SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY (D-MA)
U.S. SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD (D-WV)
U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN (D-CT)
U.S. SENATOR MAX CLELAND (D-GA)
U.S. SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA)
U.S. SENATOR JACK REED (D-RI)
U.S. SENATOR DANIEL AKAKA (D-HI)
U.S. SENATOR BILL NELSON (D-FL)
U.S. SENATOR BEN NELSON (D-NE)
U.S. SENATOR JEAN CARNAHAN (D-MO)
U.S. SENATOR MARK DAYTON (D-OH)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R-VA), RANKING MEMBER
U.S. SENATOR STROM THURMOND (R-SC)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ)
U.S. SENATOR ROBERT C. SMITH (R-NH)
U.S. SENATOR JAMES M. INHOFE (R-OK)
U.S. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM (R-PA)
U.S. SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R-KS)
U.S. SENATOR WAYNE ALLARD (R-CO)
U.S. SENATOR TIM HUTCHINSON (R-AR)
U.S. SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL)
U.S. SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME)
U.S. SENATOR JIM BUNNING (R-KY)
ALBERTO JOSE MORA
NOMINATED TO BE GENERAL COUNSEL DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
NOMINATED TO BE DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR LOGISTICS AND MATERIAL READINESS
STEVEN JOHN MORELLO
NOMINATED TO BE GENERAL COUNSEL DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
NOMINATED TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FOR MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS
NOMINATED TO BE DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ACQUISITION AND TECHNOLOGY
LEVIN: The committee will come to order. The committee meets
today to consider the nominations of Alberto Jose Mora to be general
counsel of the Department of the Navy; Diane K. Morales to be deputy
undersecretary of defense for logistics and material readiness; Steven
John Morello, Sr., to be general counsel of the Department of the
Army; William A. Navas, Jr., to be assistant secretary of the Navy for
manpower and reserve affairs; and Michael W. Wynne to be deputy
undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology.
On behalf of the entire committee, I'd like to welcome you, your
families and friends. At the Armed Services Committee, we have a
tradition on this committee of asking our nominees if they'd like to
introduce family members who might be present, and why don't we do
LEVIN: Welcome, everybody. Mr. Navas?
NAVAS: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to introduce my spouse of 36
years, Wilda (ph). She's here to give me the support she has given me
throughout the years.
LEVIN: Mr. Navas, relative to Vieques, you're the chairman of
the American Veterans Committee for Puerto Rico's Self-Determination.
I understand the committee has not taken a position on the Navy's
continued use of Vieques. That really was a press release that has
been brought to our attention which was issued by the committee of
which you are chair earlier this year which has the following
statement: "The Vieques issue should not overshadow a century of
commitment to the United States by the American citizens of Puerto
Rico. Instead, it should remind us that despite all their
contribution to the United States, the people of Puerto Rico remain
second class citizens. Vieques is a symptom of a relationship which
does not provide any mechanism for the people of Puerto Rico to
address their just grievances."
Could you tell us what your own position is on the Navy's use of
Vieques? Also, if you would, please comment on the present situation,
the law which provides for a referendum of the people of Vieques, and
the recent events on Vieques.
NAVAS: Yes, Mr. Chairman. The issue is a very complex issue.
On one side, as a veteran, as a combat veteran of 33 years in the
Army, I strongly support realistic training as a principal
underpinning of combat readiness. And at the present time, Vieques
provides the Navy and the Marine Corps team with an ideal place in
which to conduct this training, and that, basically, is the issue on
On the other hand, the work that I did with the committee
basically saw the issue in Vieques as a symptom of a broader issue,
which is the fact that the relationship between the United States and
Puerto Rico, for the last 100 years, has not been resolved to the
point where the people of Puerto Rico would have the right to self-
determination and sovereignty. And, basically, at the extremes of the
spectrum would be Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state of the Union or
Puerto Rico becoming an independent republic in its own terms.
In those cases, the relationship, vis-a-vis, the issues would
have been dealt differently. So I am torn between basically two
issues, the issue on one hand of the requirement for combat readiness,
which I strongly believe and I have supported, and then on the other
hand a more broader issue of resolving at some point the 100-year
history of disenfranchisement of over 3.8 million Puerto Rican
citizens who do not have the opportunity to vote for the president or
do not have representation in our system.
LEVIN: What role would you expect to be playing with regard to
Vieques if confirmed?
NAVAS: Mr. Chairman, my portfolio, obviously, is personnel
issues. I have not been involved in any of the issues. I would play
whatever role the secretary of the Navy sees fit for me. I would say,
intuitively, that I might be able to provide him with some background,
some insights on the broader issues of Puerto Rico, because of the
fact that I was born and educated and for the last six years have been
a resident of Puerto Rico.
LEVIN: Mr. Mora, what are your objectives, if confirmed,
relative to Vieques, and what role would you be playing?
MORA: Well, sir, as chief legal counsel for the Department of
the Navy, my role would be as a legal advisor to the department. The
Vieques issue has, of course, significant legal dimensions, but it's
fundamentally a policy issue centering on the readiness and training
of the military.
I would, of course, advise the secretary and other members of the
Department of the Navy and Marine Corps on the legal issues when they
arise, and then beyond that, I would cooperate with the secretary with
whatever additional tasks or requests for information or support he
might care to give me.
LEVIN: Thank you. Mine time is up.
WARNER: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I'll follow on with Mr. Navas
with your line of questions relative to Vieques.
First, an observation. In the response you made to the
chairman's questions, you sort of indicated that Puerto Rico has
suffered. That may well be the case, because of its difference and
the way it's treated as a territory versus a state.
But the record should reflect the people of Puerto Rico have
never, never voted to express their desire to become a state. Am I
not correct on that?
NAVAS: Senator Warner, the issue is that we have never had a
congressionally sanctioned referendum, which defines very clearly what
are the options to the issue of Puerto Rico. Actually, there's a
letter dated 1996 by the four committees that had to deal with Puerto
Rico in the House of Representatives, and it ends saying that the
question of Puerto Rico's political status remains open and
What we have had historically are referenda that have been done
locally, and it's not binding by the U.S. Congress. And, as such, the
Congress of the United States, who basically has the authority over
Puerto Rico in the territorial clause of the Constitution, has never
put some options there, binding options, for the people of Puerto
Rico. That was attempted last year in the 106th Congress with the
Young bill, but that did not progress.
WARNER: But in the meantime, the laws of the United States have
a force and effect in Puerto Rico, and is this committee to assume
that you will respect and work to support the laws of the United
States as they relate to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico?
NAVAS: Most definitely, sir.
WARNER: Thank you very much. I think you have a distinguished
career, and it may well be that your knowledge in depth of the issues
could be of help to the Department of the Navy and, indeed, the
Secretary of Defense as this critical issue evolves.
NAVAS: Sir, I hope I could be of help.
WARNER: I hope that you give your objective viewpoints to the
secretary of the Navy and defense.
NAVAS: Yes, sir.
REED: Thank you very much.
Mr. Mora and Mr. Morello, you will be the general counsels of the
Army and the Navy. Besides making a bet on the Army-Navy football
game, you will have lots of other interesting things to do, one of
which is an ongoing concern about environmental issues affecting both
the Army and the Navy. This, I believe, will be amplified by the
Vieques situation, because I think whatever resolution comes about in
Vieques, there will be additional pressure on training areas
throughout the Army and Navy by local community groups.
My general question is what is your position at this point about
environmental laws and, specifically, a broadened appreciation of the
interaction between local communities and military facilities?
MORELLO: Thank you, Senator. In my preparation for these
hearings, I was heartened to learn that the Army general counsel's
office does, indeed, have a number of attorneys who just specialize in
environmental issues. And I think that demonstrates, to me, at least,
the seriousness which the secretary of the Army places upon
environmental issues. Local concern is always an important part of
the input that would be taken with regard to an appropriate
environmental plan of action regarding any kind of training or other
So, if confirmed, I would continue that sensitivity, realizing,
based upon some of my experiences in private practice, that it is very
important, especially to the people who live anywhere around
situations or areas that might be impacted, to make sure that we do
the best we can and be good environmental citizens.
REED: Thank you.
MORA: Thank you, Senator. In the week of briefings I've had at
the general counsel's office, Senator, I would say that the
preponderance of the issues have touched upon environmental matters in
one way or another. It is clear that preoccupation with environmental
law and compliance is one of the principal preoccupations of the Navy.
In fact, from what I've seen, I'm not aware that there is almost
any Navy operation or activity that does not have some sort of
environmental consideration which the Navy takes into account.
Obviously, the Navy will obey the environmental laws and wishes to be
a good neighbor to all the communities in which it is a member.
By the same token, it is clear that environmental restrictions,
which seem to be growing, provide an ever growing restriction to
training and readiness in the Navy. These will be difficult questions
that will have to be balanced, Senator, but we can promise our full
attention to these issues.
REED: Thank you, Mr. Mora.
LEVIN: Senator Reed, thank you.
INHOFE: Mr. Chairman, are we going to have another round after
LEVIN: We'll have as many rounds as we need.
INHOFE: OK, fine. Thank you.
To follow up a little bit, let's go back to the answer that you
gave, Mr. Navas, concerning your background. This group that you are
the chairman of has the word, self-determination, in it.
Specifically, what is the name of the group?
NAVAS: Sir, the group is a committee. It's ...
INHOFE: What is it called? That's what I'm asking you.
NAVAS: American Veterans for Puerto Rico's Self-Determination.
INHOFE: OK. And you implied in the answer to Senator Warner's
question that while there have been several referenda, there have not
been any that had restricted options. I would assume that you would
support a referendum that had statehood or independence. Is this
NAVAS: Sir, at the end of the day, the two pure options for
sovereignty or self-determination for Puerto Rico would be either a
state of the Union under the Constitution of the United States or an
independent republic -- basically two options. There might be -- I
don't know -- there might be a third option. I have not studied that,
because every time you look at an option, it always remains as a
concession option. It's an option that could go beyond the two
So the ultimate two self-determination would be those two, yes,
INHOFE: Do you think that's what your governor would like to
NAVAS: Sir, I cannot speak for the governor. I have not been an
official resident of Puerto Rico for the last six years.
INHOFE: Since you support self-determination, would you support
self-determination for the citizens of Vieques, as is called for in
the referendum in the coming November?
NAVAS: Sir, there's a law on the books based on a referendum for
a very specific issue, and as long as that's a law, I think we would
support it. Of course, I am aware that there's a thrust to try to get
relief from that law, and I'm not, at this point, in a capacity to
comment one way or another.
LEVIN: Or is that a pelican? I can't see what that is. It's a
Thank you all. Congratulations, and we hope to bring these to
the floor as soon as we have a committee to vote on them.